Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Luke's Response to the Lack of Almsgiving Culture in the Roman Empire: "The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus" (Luke 16:19-31) and Luke's Exhortation to the Roman Elite

Author:YANG Yan, Ph.D Candidate, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Scholar-in-Residence, Sun Yat-sen University



“The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31) is peculiar to the Gospel of Luke, and has lots of typical Lukan expressions. Scholars cannot reach an agreement on the unity and meaning of this episode, with its themes of reversal and of resurrection. This essay will respond to these controversies by reading the episode in its social setting. We will scrutinize this episode and interpret it in the light of Greco-Roman literary techniques and rhetorical skills, and then explore the interaction between this episode and the lack of almsgiving culture in Roman society. Finally this article will propose that Luke 16:19-31 is a coherent unit at the rhetorical level, and Luke manipulates similar  themes in Greco-Roman literature to exhort the social elite in Roman society to care for the poor in response to their neglect in Roman culture.



The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, charity, Roman Social Elite, exhortation


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